25 Secret European Villages
Lavenham, in Suffolk, may just be the prettiest town in England. It boasts more than 300 heritage houses and its high street is lined with the kind of bric-a-brac shops and teahouses (serving scones and clotted cream) that are on the endangered list throughout rural England—and all but extinct in glossier reaches, such as the Cotswolds and West Dorset. Sarah Townsend, former owner of the superchic Palazzo Terranova, in Umbria, was so charmed by the region that she just opened a small inn in nearby Buxhall.
How to Get There: Trains depart London’s Liverpool Street Station several times daily for Stowmarket, 14 miles away.
Where to Stay and Eat: Great Value The contemporary Great House Hotel (doubles from $144) is in Lavenham’s town center. The Great House Restaurant (dinner for two $100), with its gastropub take on English fare, is one of Suffolk’s finest. Buxhall Coach House (doubles from $352), has two bedrooms, a fireplace, and a large kitchen.